Cannes Lions 2013 – MyMateDan does Cannes

June 23, 2013
The most successful campaign here in Cannes this week is a piece for Metro in Australia entitled “Dumb ways to Die”. It’s a great campaign with a PSA message to help prevent people being stupid around trains. It’s a deserved winner for the team from McCann in Melbourne… it’s got a catchy jingle that everyone leaving the Palais De Festival was humming on exit, and was heard in the Gutter Bar. It had a fantastic film that went social, an iTunes single along with obligatory supporting online, outdoor, press and [no doubt added after the first part went viral!] I don’t want to speculate on how much the agency was paid for this work, but I expect they spent their fee on Lions Nominations. It’s everywhere and duly returning the investment for McCann with Gold and Grand Prix statues. If you are one of the handful people in the world who has not seen it check out their submission – Guaranteed you’ll be humming the tune when you’re doing the washing up tonight and again in the shower tomorrow morning. I fully expect it to deservedly keep winning this week, and next year for Effectiveness.
Padding through the shortlist exhibition, ‘innovation’ was a very common theme, along with humanity and emotional engagement. These themes was supported by the seminars I attended with Commentators, industry leaders and jury presidents being unanimous in their calling for creativity and campaigns that have emotional engagement at their core, rather than submissions labouring their numbers of ‘likes, clicks, retweets and hits’. Of course these come as a result of effective creativity – so there’s a time, and a place, and category for that. There was also a warning about being to technical – Both jury presidents for Media and Outdoor made the point that they did not want to see ‘under the hood’ or know how many screws we used.
This year Lions launched their ‘Innovation’ category, one where they do wanna see under the hood, rewarding those who develop innovative and game changing services and platforms from which to create from. Lions were to be awarded to the most innovative apps, platforms, tools, products, services or revolutionary software [SaaS] to promote a new kind of customer engagement. Cinder, a programming platform to allow developers to cross develop with multiple technologies was a worthy Grand Prix winner. But for me the most innovative thing about this new category was the way it was judged. Kudos to Lions allowing the festival attendees to see ‘up their skirt’ and sit in on the judging panel presentations from the shortlisted entries. Le Grand Auditorium was packed with interested creatives for the candidate presentations, demonstrating a real appetite for Innovation from the creative community. This new innovative way of judging, critiquing, qualifying and evaluating is the most refreshing thing Lions have done in their 60 year history if you ask me. Open source working is the new cornerstone of the Creative community, so having our work evaluated in a park rather than a walled garden is progressive and relevant. The innovations panel did a good job not awarding Golds or the Grand Prix to campaign work, although they shortlisted a host of them for some unknown reason.
Outside of the innovation category, many of the shortlisted entries demonstrated innovation and creativity tightly fused. The shortlisted work appeared to promise huge rewards for the creative technologists in attendance. Most left empty handed. It certainly felt like the most innovative campaigns were not rewarded with something shiny for the office reception. Maybe they were too innovative, or not creative enough. Maybe the marriage of technology and creativity was not harmonious enough for the jury. Maybe they confused the juries with technology and not enough craft. The few truly innovative campaigns that did leave with shiny souvenirs were simple ideas, technically created and they won in multiple categories.
Outdoor had 5613 entries alone. Digital Outdoor – the most innovative side of the Outdoor market delivered 87 of those entries. The infinite wisdom of the Lions jury shortlisted 9 of the best uses of Digital Outdoor from across the globe with excellent submissions from KBS, DDB, DLKW, JWT, 180, Y&R, COMUNIDAD and BBDO for clients BMW, Guinness, Microloan, HSBC, Heineken, Asics, Columbian Military, Volvo and VEnergy Drinks. These were the category rules defined by Cannes Lions:
  • Including digital escalator panels, LCD screens, cross-track projection sites, digital roadside billboards, bluetooth enabled screens and interactive posters including consumer generated content
  • Entries into Digital Outdoor MUST have been designed specifically for use in digital outdoor sites; for example any video submitted must have been designed and created for use in digital outdoor sites rather than TV or cinema ads simply played in an ‘Out of Home’ situation.
Odd then that they shortlisted 2 mobile / tablet [Volvo, Columbia], 5 special build stunts [Guinness, BMW, Asics, HSBC, VEnergy]  and one ambient [Heineken] submissions. Don’t get me wrong, each one demonstrated great uses of technology and creativity, but only one, yes ONE used a ‘traditional’ Digital Outdoor, Media Owner owned, Media Agency planned, Outdoor Specialist bought format. The other 8, may have been ‘digital’ and performed ‘outdoor’, but they were not Digital Outdoor as we know it, or as the Outdoor industry knows it, or as they define in their submission rules.
Every other category in Outdoor had submissions that were ‘Outdoor’ executions in the traditional sense…. oh and every other Outdoor category turned at least one piece of shortlisted work into Bronze as a minimum.
Frustratingly, looking through all of the entries there were plenty that met the rules and requirements above, but were simply not shortlisted. So we probably not be surprised that the judges failed to award a Lion in C06 – Digital Outdoor – There was hardly any Digital Outdoor in there to choose from. Maybe the jury looked at the shortlisted work and worked out 90% of it was not Digital Outdoor at all. Or maybe the jury were so tired from looking at the 5562 Outdoor submissions. Maybe they simply forgot to judge C06. Whatever it was, it’s a sorry day for Digital Outdoor. Unfortunately there’s no way of knowing why none of the 87 Digital Outdoor submissions were deemed ‘unLionable’ as the judging panel don’t, won’t and can’t tell us. Unlike the innovations category we don’t get to peek behind the judging curtain.
So I’m going to go through all 87 submissions again next week, and make my own shortlist – one that conforms to the rules Lions laid down. I’m going to hand out some plaudits of our own to show the world there is truly great Digital Outdoor executions out there. Cannes Lions should donate the €40,000 they received from C06 in Outdoor to charity because they right royally balls this one up.
The big agencies know how to enter Cannes effectively. They know what to enter and where to enter it. I chatted to several people from Creative agencies walking the exhibition space shopping for undersubscribed categories for next years entry list. Dumb Ways to Die won a GP for PR. Was it really the best PR campaign in the submissions? It was a film and song released on iTunes. Did it shine in PR because it’s a fantastic piece of creative, or because it was good PR? It was not a PR agency that won the PR Grand Prix, nor was it a Media Agency that won the Media Grand Prix. In both cases, fantastic work won, but were they really the pinnacle of PR and Media. I don’t think so. But that is just my opinion.
Fortunately it was a Media Agency who won the Media Lion for Media Agency of the year! In the ‘Use of Screens’ category, our Digital Outdoor campaign with Gravity Road for Huffington Post won Silver, which is fantastic. The Media jury obviously understood what the Outdoor jury did not. Looking through the submissions, the Media Lions actually contained surprisingly few submissions by the Media Agencies. Only 28% of Golds, and 13% of Silvers in the Media section were submitted by Media agencies, and their submissions made up only 11% of the shortlisted work. Why is this? The Media agencies that we work with around the world are both creative and tactical with their media plans allowing us to have and build an audience for our ‘Dumb’ films, ‘Innovative’ and ‘Digital Outdoor’ projects. Creativity in Media is of the utmost importance to the whole creative industry, although it might just mean that the Media Agencies need to get better at making campaign videos!
The delegates from Brazil are going to need to buy some excess luggage allowance for the flight home as they are really cleaning up.  Ogilvy in particular were smashing it this week having picked up 84 by the end of day 2, many of which will be heading to their Sao Paolo office.
It really was great to attend some seminars discussing the power of creativity, storytelling through the power of imagery and how the creative world can be a force for good. Personal highlights were – Sir Bob Geldof speaking [colourfully of fucking course] at the Havvas cafe about the need for Brands to be meaningful to empower and fight for change. Annie Liebovitz talking about the Disney Parks Dream Portraits  how the power of storytelling is important to her work and what she was trying to say with these ads. And of course Dame Vivienne Westwood about being a revolutionary creative thinker… and a punk.
By the way. The song of the week was this – it was being played everywhere and there was even some dancing at the opening gala party.